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Primal Contraceptives

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  • Primal Contraceptives

    Hey All,

    There was an interesting question posed in the Dear Readers post about primal contraceptives. I found it very hard to follow what was being said about it, so I thought I would start this forum thread. Here's the original question:

    'Tell me what you know about “primal contraception”. What if Grok had a primal marriage but wasn’t ready for those little Grokaroos just yet? What do you think he would do? My wife has trouble with conventional contraception. She experiences mood difficulties, very low libido and often erratic periods. We’re trying to find a more “natural” way to have enjoyable sex and be able to plan for when we want to bring a child into the world. We have been to the gynecologist many times but they seem to just give you the pill they happen to be pushing that week and then it’s off with you! We really thought we had something with the copper IUD, but her uterus is apparently too curved and would have to have a child before being able to use the thing.'</blockquote>

    And my response:

    I just did a bunch of research on this for my girlfriend (I have a background in biology). Here's some info:

    • Hormonal Birth Control (HBC) is definitely bad. A lot of women have bad side effects from it, and women who have taken it for at least four cumulative years before their first pregnancy are 1.5 times as likely to develop breast cancer. It is even worse to take HBC as you near menopause. More info on breast cancer:

    • Using HBC increases the risk of developing cervical cancer and liver cancer, and decreases the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers, but these cancers are all quite a bit less common than breast cancer, so the increased risk of breast cancer more than outweighs any other cancer risks or benefits. More info here:

    • Progestin only HBC leads to decreased bone mass and osteoporosis. More info here:

    • Women on HBC have their natural (and primal) hormone balance thrown out of whack. Groketta was definitely progesterone dominant, whereas an alarmingly high percentage of modern women are estrogen dominant. Estrogen dominance leads to:

    1) Increased body fat and decreased lean muscle mass

    2) Increased depression and PMS style mood swings

    3) Sexual dysfunction and low libido

    4) Fibrosis and cancer of the breast, cervix and uterus

    5) Premature aging

    6) Recurrent miscarriages

    Wow. Just typing that list is a bummer... Here's more info on hormonal balance: and:

    So, with all the clearly negative effects of HBC, what are the best ways to achieve birth control? Clearly sterilization is extremely effective, but thats only if you're done having kids. The reversible forms of birth control available are: hormonal, fertility awareness, barrier, spermicidal, and IUD.

    Hormonal is extremely effective if used properly, but we already covered the drawbacks.

    Clearly fertility awareness is the most primal, but at the same time in order to achieve effectiveness rates equal to HBC, you have to abstain from sex (or use a barrier method) for basically half of the month. Personally I'm not sure its really worth all the effort - you could just use a barrier method for the whole month...

    Speaking of barrier methods - they are quite effective if used properly, but many people have sensitivities to latex, and polyurethane and lambskin are both very expensive. There is also a whole ton of evidence that people can't force themselves to consistently and properly use barrier methods, so I don't think they really have the same effectiveness as HBC or IUDs.

    Spermicides are often combined with barrier methods, but many people are sensitive to nonoxynol-9 (the spermicide), and there are preliminary indications that it can lead to increased risk of cervical/uterine cancer. Plus, spermicides alone have in the range of a 25% failure rate - doesn't seem worth the side effects, in my opinion.

    This finally brings us to IUDs. They are the number 1 form of birth control in the world (very popular in China), and they are super-effective. More effective even than sterilization...

    There are IUDs that have hormones in them (and have the same problems as HBC), and there are IUDs that are copper based. The copper kills sperm and helps alter the conditions in the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Some women can experience copper buildup in the body leading to some negative side effects, but as long as a women gets sufficient zinc her body should be able to process and excrete the excess copper.

    Many women, especially nulliparous (ie. haven't yet had a kid) have bad side effects with t-frame (copper or hormonal) IUDs. They are often too large and can cause extreme cramping, or worse perforation of the uterine wall, or sometimes even escaping into the abdominal cavity, necessitating emergency surgery to find and remove the IUD.

    There are other types of IUDs that are not rigid framed ones, however in the US the only two approved IUDs are the T-frame progesterone and T-frame copper. In Canada (and Europe, and maybe elsewhere), you can get a copper based IUD that is just a string of copper beads with no rigid frame (called the GyneFix). The string is stitched through and tied to the upper wall of the uterus (its basically just like getting an ear piercing and wearing a bead ear ring, but inside the uterus...). The fact that it is frameless eliminates basically all the side effects of framed copper IUDs for almost all women, and its especially great for nulliparous women. If I were a girl, I would plan a trip to Vancouver and get myself a gynefix...

    As for how primal they are - well, I don't think Groketta stuck anything up into her uterus, but, Groketta probably did have a few piercings, as many modern hunter gatherers are known to do. And, furthermore, copper is something that our bodies have been dealing with forever, as opposed to various synthetic chemicals and fake hormones...

    So, to sum up - I personally think IUDs are best, but if you like barriers or want to try fertility awareness and don't mind that they are less effective than IUDs, then they would also both be better options than hormonal methods.



  • #2

    Matt, you've really done a lot of work getting all that info - good on you!

    I take note when I'm ovulating and abstain around that time. But you have to be regular with your cycle which I always am. I'd rather hubby had a vasectomy but that's not gonna happen. We've already had the kids.

    The book Primal Body, Primal Mind just out of interest talks about how Mr and Mrs Grok had a heightened s-e-x drive during summer only. The light, the extra carbs they would have had, the hormonal signals - everything was ready for some action. During winter time the drive diminished apparently. I thought it would have been the other way round - all that sleeping and trying to keep warm would have led to something!


    • #3

      What about fertility monitors, like this one the Ovacue: ?


      • #4

        Matt, you definitely know how to work with science. BUT, the fact that "Some women (insert item here) have problems..." does not mean most women. Latex sensitivity is out there, but is not a large, or even small, percentage of the population. Ditto the other sensitivities.

        If non-latex condoms are thought of as expensive, how about the result of not using them? A damned good investment, I think. People used to reuse lambie skin ones in the days before latex ones; just wash out remoisten.

        On the subject of chemical sensitivities, I really believe that for many - not most, many - the problem is psychological, a form of hypochondria. It's a fairly new phenomena in our culture, I never heard of it before maybe ten years ago. I had a coworker, a nurse, who claimed latex sensitivity. When they repainted our offices she stayed home because of the latex in the paint. I never told her that latex paint is called that due to the chemical structure, nothing at all to do with rubber. Busted.


        • #5

          I use the Lady-comp temperature monitor and have for some time. It provides a historical reading and pattern of morning temperature, waking you up at the exact time each day, recording your temp, and giving you a green, yellow, or red light to describe your fertility level. I also use other cues such as discharge and mood to determine what stage I'm in. This, combined with a barrier method has been effective.

          I agree that hormonal birth control is awful. I was on it for several years on and off with repeat problems, insane weight fluctuations, depressions, severe (read: crippling) migraines, fatigue, insatiable appetite, you name finally realize it's NOT WORTH IT.

          The IUD would be nice, but I was told basically the same thing. I've never wanted children and would love to have Essure performed, but at my age (25) most doctors look at me like I smoke crack when I tell them that. So it's temp reading for now...


          • #6


            I got this book a few months ago to learn how to monitor when I'm ovulating. I'd been taking BC for years and stopped when my husband left on a 15 month deployment in March 2008.

            **TMI ALERT**

            I started taking my temperature each morning and monitoring the cervical mucus.

            **TMI OVER**

            This book has tons of great information teaching you how to learn about the natural rhythms of your body. I'm not doing the charting anymore (other than tracking my periods) b/c things are going that well with my husband since he's been back. Go figure

            "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
            ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


            • #7

              I've been on the pill for...4 or 5 years, I think. 6? It's hard to remember. Either way it's been a while. I started it because I wasn't having my period - I got it when I was 12, it happened for a few months, then stopped entirely. Asked my mom about it a few times, she said I shouldn't worry, that it was normal, etc. 3 years later, still hadn't had it, she finally took me to the obgyn, who said I may have PCOS (but never really gave me a straight answer) and put me on the pill. I have a different obgyn now at the same practice (the old one left, which is good because she was...well, not nice, to put it lightly), and now that I think about it I'm not sure if he understands my situation fully.

              I enjoy the super-regular periods, but I worry about the health issues caused by being on it for this long (and starting from age 15 or 16). I'm also getting really curious if my body can have a period on its own or not. I've been on it for so long that I'm not sure if it's affecting my personality, and I'd like to resolve that...I met my boyfriend while on the pill and he hasn't seen me off of it. I also want to know if it's the reason I have a difficult time losing weight. I've been considering stopping the pill for a month or two just to see what would happen. My boyfriend is all for it, but I know you're supposed to do the consult-doctor-before-changing-medications thing. I don't have an appointment until the winter though...


              • #8

                It's not normal Kryz. You really need to find a good D.O. or ND or someone who understands hormones. The typical OBGYN isn't going to help you, unfortunately.

                I wouldn't say Groketta had progesterone dominance. You don't want that either, you want to be just right. Estrogen dominance is a big problem these days for both men and woman. Also, high estrogen binds thyroid hormones making them useless.


                • #9

                  Mmm. From what I understand of modern hunter-gatherers, "primal" birth control is... lactation. The natural pattern seems to be for women to start having children shortly after the completion of puberty, to expect to lose a fair number of them to various natural causes, and to nurse for up to four years, which decreases fertility. Infanticide is also not unheard of in such populations, and some think that the killing of newborns when necessary may have been the norm in early human cultures rather than a psychotic exception. If you look at a lot of the more ancient cultural practices surrounding welcoming a baby, they seem designed to permit a period in between birth and the ritual in which it's not yet *quite* a person.

                  This is one area where I'm afraid I can't get on board with doing it like Grokette. I don't want children now or maybe ever, all of the barrier methods I've tried so far render me much more vulnerable to UTIs and yeast infections (and yes, I avoid the spermicide), the IUD has all the complications previously listed for someone like me, and I'm not willing to keep my hands off my husband for half the month or trust my already-odd basal body temperature to tell me when I'm fertile. I was prescribed hormonal birth control as a teenager to turn my brutal periods into something that could be ridden out, and it worked. I don't like that it makes it harder to lose fat, but I'm willing to accept the tradeoffs. Not every woman has the same experiences on HBC- for me it's been very much net positive.


                  • #10

                    interesting thread, this has been on my mind for some time now, thanks for the good info everyone



                    • #11

                      I'm sorry, but this is just one area I'm not going Primal- lol. I've been on depo-provera for oh... close to 8 years, nearly consecutively and I don't plan on coming off it anytime soon. 1) There's no way this side of Hades I want to tempt fate. I absolutely don't want kids. 2) I absolutely love not getting a period. I went off it for a while, hated it and went back on depo.

                      I know a lot of women have issues with it, and initially I blamed my (further) weight gain on "the shot". But then after losing 120 lbs (while still on it) I looked back and realized that it was in fact my HORRIBLE eating habits that did it.

                      I guess it's just worth the risk for me, until I can get myself 'fixed'- lol. At only 27 it's not really a plausible option yet.


                      • #12

                        Hi Matt, thanks for all the info, I have just come off depo provera after being on it for over 10 years, since discovering MDA I have become a lot more primal (I already had the eating right but was still having poisons put into my body via the depo and also some other medications that I am now coming off of), anyway my dearly beloved and I haven’t yet discussed what method of contraceptives we will be using so with this information we will be able to discuss and come up with a solution. By the way I have very low estrogen so am also out of whack but the other end of the scale.


                        • #13

                          Hey Diana what was it like coming off the depo provera? I am now one week clean of it and am taking a herbal supplement called Maca instead, also taking lots of fish oils, I am starting to think I can control this with good eating and the right supplementation.


                          • #14

                            It was pretty easy for me. My cycle started right up but wasn't painful, heavy or anything compared to other women I know. I just found going through the whole monthly stuff a real annoyance and well... I just don't care to deal with it- lol.


                            • #15

                              I have been on the Pill for more than 10 years. I can nothing but be positive about it and like some of the others said, I am not willing to go Grokette on this either. I do not want children= the safest method for me is the Pill. The only other way to go would be to be sterilized, but somehow I find it difficult to go down that route.